AWS Public Sector Blog
Sharing best practices on vaccine administration at the CDC National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) convened the National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine to share and discuss best practices to help advance the goals of the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. The forum brought representatives together from across the US government, including tribal, state, local, and territorial leaders, public health, healthcare systems, national and community based non-governmental organizations, education, private industry, unions, and faith-based organizations involved in the response to COVID-19. Amazon Web Services (AWS) participated in the forum as a panelist for “Day 2 Town Hall: Using Technology to Manage COVID-19 Vaccination.”
“The National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine brought together more than 11,000 vaccine practitioners and champions to share promising practices. More than 100 expert speakers from across 31 states and Tribes contributed to a terrific discussion to support on-the-ground improvements in vaccinating people quickly, safely, and equitably,” says Sara Zeigler, CDC Forum planning group lead.
“It was a privilege to be a part of this important event and to help share best practices around leveraging technology to manage COVID-19 vaccine administration nationwide,” said Jim Daniel, state and local government public health lead at AWS. “The COVID-19 vaccine landscape is unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime, and it is critical to innovate and modernize IT systems to protect and serve citizens. At AWS, we are working closely with our customers and partners to modernize existing IT systems and processes to manage the unprecedented demands our public health agencies are facing.”
AWS has worked closely with many states and jurisdictions looking to quickly design, launch, and mobilize their vaccination administration plans using cloud technology. Below are some of the best practices shared at the forum on how the cloud can help with vaccine administration:
Modernize Immunization Information Systems: Immunization Information Systems (IIS) are critical to the tracking and reporting of vaccines. Traditionally designed to report and track pediatric vaccinations only, many IIS systems are not currently equipped to manage COVID-19 records and inquiries at the capacity expected for mass vaccinations to the general public. There has already been a drastic increase in the number of vaccines that are reported to IIS systems, along with added queries from healthcare systems to validate first doses. Looking forward, queries for proof of vaccinations from payors, schools, and employers will create an even higher demand on IIS. Many states are currently working to modernize their IIS system by migrating to cloud-based solutions. States with on-premises IIS face multiple challenges including poor performance and failed hardware, making migration to the cloud critical. Migration to the cloud can improve reliability and performance as well as improve process and query response time. A northwestern state’s Department of Health recently migrated several core COVID-19 response systems to AWS and is better positioned to handle increased demand in tracking vaccine distribution and administration activities across its communities.
Introduce scalable communications tools, like call centers with artificial intelligence-enabled assistants: Public health agencies and staff are working to inform communities of the current COVID-19 vaccination phase information and process. As the vaccine landscape evolves daily and the available communications channels increase, some citizens don’t know how to access timely and trusted information. For example, to help senior citizens and others who may not be comfortable with the internet, state, city, and county jurisdictions established COVID-19 contact (call) centers, aimed at helping individuals navigate the complex eligibility and scheduling process. These cloud-based contact centers serve as the omnichannel for vaccine information, can be securely implemented in a matter of days, and staffed with personnel that are working from home or in-person. As a part of the COVID-19 response in 2020, numerous states used Amazon Connect to rapidly stand up new call center capabilities for contact tracing and unemployment insurance applications that utilized interactive voice response, chat, and agents. For example, in South Carolina, the Department of Health and Environment Control (DHEC) used Amazon Connect to supplement website information. In the customer’s own words, “DHEC has committed to a streamlined constituent experience for all South Carolinians by supplementing our COVID-19 vaccination website with a consolidated call center 1-866 number. Our constituents can talk live with an operator to receive COVID-19 vaccine information and answers to vaccine questions from a trusted source. Operators also provide contact information for any vaccine providers near the caller so they can make vaccination appointments.”
Integrate real-time data for clinical and other data sources to assist policy makers and program executives: With the changing landscape of the COVID-19 vaccine and testing mechanisms, having accurate and timely data is critical. AWS works with both public and private customers that need to track and categorize COVID-19 data coming from hospitals, labs, and other healthcare providers to capture real-time clinical data for integration with other data sources using data lakes. Cloud solutions help these customers implement data lake technology within days, then train staff to produce analytics and dashboards needed for data-driven planning and insights.For instance, the New York State Department of Health regularly collects a breadth of information from the healthcare system in the State. In 11 days, the department, along with AWS and Cloudticity, rolled out its database and trained staff on how to use it. Cloud-based solutions make it simpler for our customers to collect, store, analyze, and share data across different silos for a consolidated view. By ingesting data in real time and addressing gaps as they are identified, our public health workers are better equipped to use data to optimize vaccine administration and policies.
AWS and AWS Partners can help advance the goals of the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. Across Amazon, we have been taking steps to support our employees, customers, and communities during this critical time—and we will continue to do more. We work alongside our customers at the local, state, and federal level to continuously work backwards from the challenges and barriers to optimize vaccine distribution with a mission-driven mentality. Customers are moving forward confidently knowing they can depend on the scale, reach, and reliability of AWS. We are committed to assisting the new vaccination roll-out efforts in an agile way as we work together to provide essential services during the pandemic. To learn more about our vaccine-related solutions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to join Jim Daniel on March 10, 2021 in an AWS-sponsored webinar “Scaling Public Health Infrastructure for COVID Response with the Cloud.” And learn more about the cloud for state and local government and Health and Human Services agencies.